Your rights, responsibilities and policies
This section includes information about your rights and responsibilities and provides useful links to relevant policies.
While working in Oxford, graduate students on full-time courses must usually reside within 25 miles of the city centre. Work and residence towards a degree is calculated from the term of matriculation. There is minimum residence periods before a degree can be taken. These minima are normally:
Minimum terms of residence
MSc by Research
DPhil - ‘Standard’
DPhil (after completing Oxford MSc)
DPhil - ‘Doctoral Training Programme’
*Subject to any specific regulations. Special arrangements exist to enable intermittent residence or vacation residence periods to count towards the overall requirements (see the Examination Regulations).
Dispensation from residence requirements
If you are a DPhil student, you may apply formally for dispensation from these requirements for not more than three terms of residence if it is necessary to your work that you should be allowed to pursue your course of study at some place other than Oxford. The most common grounds for dispensation is the need to carry out fieldwork, or to make use of experimental facilities which are not available in Oxford.
It is also possible to obtain dispensation if your supervisor moves to another University in the middle of your course, and a suitable replacement cannot be found in Oxford. Dispensation from residence requirements must be applied for using the form GSO.8.
Given the increased emphasis on induction and research training, it is the University’s expectation that students will not normally be given dispensation from residence in their first year of Probationer Research Students (PRS) status.
Collaborative Doctoral Training Programmes
Some Doctoral Training Programmes require students to undertake a master’s course at another institution for a year of their programme. Others may be required to attend or conduct experiments in other institutions inside or outside the UK, or will be based in industry for a term or longer periods. In these circumstances it is not necessary to apply for dispensation from the residence requirement.
Permission to undertake research in a well-found laboratory outside the University
An exception to the residence requirements is made for a limited number of students admitted to undertake research in the division but with special permission to undertake their research in a well-found laboratory outside the University. This permission is granted at the time of application to the University. Details are provided in the Special Regulations of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, set out in the Examination Regulations. The Director of Graduate Studies for your department must apply on your behalf to the MPLS Division (via the Graduate Office).
Working hours, holidays, sick leave, maternity, parental and adoption leave
Working hours and holidays
Most graduate students are not paid employees and therefore do not have contractual working hours. Working practices vary widely between disciplines and between individuals and thus a divisional policy on working hours and holiday has been established to guide expectations. Your department will also provide advice on its particular arrangements.
If you feel unwell and need to stay at home for a day or two, you should inform your supervisor and let them know when you expect to be back in the department. Do tell a friend or colleague as well in case you need help, and so that someone can check that you are better. If you are unwell for a longer period of time, you should try to maintain regular email contact with your supervisor to keep them informed of your health, and inform your college office. In a few cases it may be advisable to apply for suspension of status for the term in which you are ill.
Maternity leave, parental and adoption leave
To support students seeking to take parental leave, the University’s Student Maternity, Paternity and Adoption leave policy provides details of the arrangements for students who are about to have, or adopt, a child. The policy outlines how much leave students are entitled to, access to University facilities, graduate accommodation and childcare services and the provision for a flexible return to full-time study. The University’s policy is intended to harmonise with the frameworks operated by UKRI, enabling it clearly to differentiate maternity leave from suspension of study for medical or disciplinary reasons and to ensure consistent and fair treatment of pregnant students and new parents. It also provides new mothers with the right to a protected period of leave after the birth.
Postgraduate research students should particularly note the requirements for applying for maternity or paternity leave, including the forms required and timings for notifying their college, supervisor and Director of Graduate Studies.
If you have been granted six terms’ suspension of study by the department board and you have taken additional maternity leave you will not be prohibited from seeking dispensation from Education Committee for further suspension of study. Such requests will be considered on their individual merits.
UKRI have harmonised their terms and conditions for Maternity Leave for Research Council funded students. The terms and conditions of training grants state: 'UKRI funded Students are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave if the expected week of childbirth will occur during the period of their award. The earliest Maternity leave can commence is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. The first 26 weeks should be paid at full stipend rate, pro-rated as necessary for part time Students. The following 13 weeks should be paid at a level commensurate with statutory maternity pay. The final 13 weeks are not paid. Partners are entitled to up to two weeks paid Ordinary Paternity Leave on full stipend. Ordinary Paternity Leave cannot start before the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth. Partners are also entitled to an extended period of unpaid parental leave, up to a maximum of 50 weeks, with their studentship extended accordingly. Unpaid parental leave must be completed within 12 months of the birth of the child. This leave may be taken in up to three blocks of leave or all at once. Adoption leave should be granted on the same basis as maternity leave. There is no qualifying period for maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Additionally, their Studentship end date should be updated to reflect the period of leave.'
See also our page on Funding for Parental Leave
Complaints and appeals
Detailed information on the arrangements/procedures for your subject area will be available from your department. The collegiate University’s procedures make provision for a student to seek advice on matters of concern from a number of individuals who have responsibility for different aspects of the well-being of graduate students. Please view the University complaints process.
Statutes and Regulations of the University
There are Statutes and Regulations which set out the legislation relating to the University’s overall structure, governance and procedures.
Equality and diversity at Oxford
“The University of Oxford is committed to fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected. We recognise that the broad range of experiences that a diverse staff and student body brings strengthens our research and enhances our teaching, and that in order for Oxford to remain a world-leading institution we must continue to provide a diverse, inclusive, fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.” University of Oxford Equality Policy
As a member of the University you contribute towards making it an inclusive environment and we ask that you treat other members of the university community with respect, courtesy and consideration.
The Equality and Diversity Unit works with all parts of the collegiate University to develop and promote an understanding of equality and diversity and ensure that this is reflected in all its processes. The Unit also supports the University in meeting the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010, including eliminating unlawful discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between people with and without the ‘protected characteristics’ of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and/or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The Equality and Diversity Unit also supports a broad network of harassment advisors in departments/faculties and colleges and a central Harassment Advisory Service. Please view the University’s Harassment and Bullying policy for further information, and the support available for students.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The MPLS Graduate Office keeps individual correspondence files on current research students, on which are retained copies of all forms and related correspondence, and other relevant documentation. These are retained in line with the University's retention policy.
Intellectual Property Rights
The University has in place arrangements governing the ownership and exploitation of intellectual property generated by students and researchers in the course of, or incidental to, their studies. These arrangements are set out in the University’s Statutes, under which the University claims ownership of certain forms of intellectual property which students may create. See further information about the IP Commercialisation Process.
Academic integrity: good practice in citation, and the avoidance of plagiarism
The University’s code of conduct concerning academic integrity is set out on the website, and, while the code’s principles relate specifically to the conduct of research, all graduate students are advised to make themselves aware of the document’s contents.
The code of conduct mentions plagiarism, and in this context it is important for all graduate students within the division’s subject areas, to be aware of, and to follow, good practice in the use of sources and making appropriate reference. You will need to exercise judgement in determining when reference is required, and when material may be taken to be so much a part of the ‘general knowledge’ of your subject that formal citation would not be expected. The basis on which such judgements are made is likely to vary slightly between subject areas, as may also the style and format of making references, and your supervisor will be in the best position to advise you on such matters; in addition, these may be covered, along with other aspects of academic writing, in your induction training.
By following the citation principles and practices in place in your subject area, you will develop a rigorous approach to academic referencing, and avoid inadvertent plagiarism. Cases of apparently deliberate plagiarism, while happily infrequent in the University are taken extremely seriously, and where examiners suspect that this has occurred, they bring the matter to the attention of the Proctors. Your attention is drawn to the Student Handbook (Proctors’ and Assessor’s Memorandum), Section 7.7, ‘Plagiarism'.
The University employs a series of sophisticated software applications to detect plagiarism in submitted examination work, both in terms of copying and collusion. It regularly monitors on-line essay banks, essay-writing services, and other potential sources of material. It reserves the right to check samples of submitted essays for plagiarism. Although the University strongly encourages the use of electronic resources by students in their academic work, any attempt to draw on third-party material without proper attribution may well attract severe disciplinary sanctions.
Information about plagiarism for students is provided on the Oxford Students website. The University also has an online training course about avoiding plagiarism (SSO required). Your department may provide additional statements about what constitutes plagiarism in your subject area.
Research Data Management and Research Councils Expectations
The University requires all EPSRC-funded researchers (staff and students), with department support, to manage their research data in accordance with the University Policy on the Management of Data Supporting Research Outputs and, in relation to those data (and only such data) as would be necessary to verify published research conclusions – i.e. those data underpinning charts, graphs, and quantitative statements in publications. In 2011 EPSRC implemented its Policy Framework on Research Data which includes a number of expectations that need to be fully met by those it funds. If you need any help or guidance on how to manage your research data please refer to Research Data Oxford.
Export Control Legislation
Individual academics and researchers in the University have an obligation at law to consider whether they may need a licence from the UK Export Control Organisation (ECO), part of the UK Department of International Trade to 'export' goods, technology, software, designs or other related 'know-how'. Failure to obtain a licence or to comply with its provisions may constitute a criminal offence involving potential fines, legal costs and/or prison sentences of up to 10 years. See further information and guidance on Export Control Legislation.